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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 February 22 - 28  > Izakaya restaurant chain worker’s suicide recognized as work-related
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2012 February 22 - 28 [LABOR]

Izakaya restaurant chain worker’s suicide recognized as work-related

February 23 & 24, 2012
On February 14, a workers’ accident compensation insurance examiner determined that a worker of a major Japanese casual dining and drinking (izakaya) chain company committed suicide due to mental health problems caused by excessively long working hours.

The 26-year-old Mori Mina killed herself in June 2008, just two months after she joined Watami Foodservice Co., Ltd., which operates izakaya restaurants throughout Japan.

In April 2008, Mori was assigned to a Watami restaurant in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture. A document compiled by her bereaved family shows that on weekdays, after working from 3 pm to 3 am, she had to remain at her workplace for two hours in order to return home on the first train in the morning. On weekends, she worked an additional three hours. Even on holidays, she had to attend early morning study meetings.

Four months after her death, the bereaved filed a claim with the Yokosuka Labor Standards Inspection Office seeking recognition for Mori’s suicide as work-related, but the claim was denied.

Under the workers’ accident compensation insurance system, those who are not satisfied with a labor standards inspection office decision may demand an independent examination by a Workers’ Accident Compensation Insurance examiner appointed by the Labor Minister. Making use of this system, the bereaved family called on the examiner of the Kanagawa Prefectural Labor Bureau to reconsider the Yokosuka inspection office’s decision.

Judging from the facts that her monthly hours of overtime work exceeded 140 hours and that she was unable to take enough break time and holidays to maintain her health, the examiner recognized that main cause of her mental health problem as work-related stress.

A Watami spokesperson commented, “The examiner’s recognition is regrettable.”
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